In Malawi one of reasons that parastatals are mostly dormant is the fact that board members are equally dormant. In the first place they have no ideas and solutions to keep the organisation afloat. Usually when the organisation is not doing well, the blame goes to government for not pumping in more money. This is a wrong assumption. If more money is given to a poorly managed organisation it does not improve anything. The other thing which contributes to malfunction of the parastatals is the bad habit by the political party in power demanding money from the parastatals to fund the party. In fact, it is not the duty of the government agents to finance political parties. In past financial requests have been honoured because of fear of likely repercussion to both management and board members whose positions were at the mercy of the ruling party.
Recently. President Lazarus Chakwera appointed new board members for the parastatals. What is pleasing with the board members is that they all look knowledgeable with some qualification which can benefit the relevant organisation. Above all it seems the majority of appointed board members have nothing to do with political appeasement. Their qualifications matter most.
It is common knowledge that in the past administrations, board members were appointed as appeasement for being supporters of the ruling political party. The appointment had nothing to do with some academic qualification. Some members would not even write nor read English. Therefore, their contribution during board meetings was almost zero as discussing organisation’s documents was like Greek to them. With all due respect, such good for nothing members would be seen dozing off during meetings only to wake up at tea and lunch breaks. Carrying along such members is a waste of resources. Definitely, having a pack of non-performing board members, the organizations cannot improve.
Fortunately, under President Chakwera parastatals are under Vice-President Chilima who is also in charge of reforms. So far, the Vice-President has already visited a number of parastatal organisations. During the visit to various organisations he has openly cautioned management that the Tonse Alliance government will not tolerate non performers and that there is no room for half measures. This shows that board members too have to follow suit and work hard.
In fact, it goes without saying that people expect the new boards to turn organisations around and face towards success. If need be, the boards should have sub committees to work at various parameters in an organization such as finance, audit and others. These sub committees should give reports to the main board during plenary meetings. All the boards should be strong enough to direct the management of the organisation. The success of the board should be mirrored in the success of the organisation. Both the boards and management should be strong enough to avoid influences by political parties. Time is long gone for some politicians to think of abusing organisations by using resources such as vehicles, as was the case in the past.
It is obvious that both President Chakwera and Vice President Chilima want parastatals to be successful. This is not the time to waste money and carry along dormant organisations.